Colorado Laws on Internet Luring – Sexual Exploitation – Are Being Enforced
August 2010 – A Douglas County Colorado Internet crimes investigation led to the arrest of a South Dakota man for Internet luring.
David W. Peterson, 48, was arrested Aug. 9 following a five-month Internet luring investigation that took place in the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Unit. The investigation began in March when a detective from the Douglas County unit began chatting online with an adult male, later identified as Peterson. Peterson was led to believe he was sharing online conversations with a 14-year-old girl from Lone Tree. The conversations became sexual in nature and reportedly included obscene materials sent over the Internet from Peterson to the “victim.”
Part of the job of the Douglas County Internet crimes unit is to troll the Internet for suspects who target minors for purposes of sexual gratification. The unit faces challenges in prosecution because Internet cases often involve multiple jurisdictions, crossing state and national boundaries, according to the sheriff’s office website.
Peterson was arrested by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, which executed an arrest warrant issued by Douglas County. Pennington County officials conducted a search of Peterson’s home at the time of his arrest, resulting in possible additional charges in South Dakota, said Cocha Heyden, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.
Peterson faces multiple charges in Douglas County, including Internet luring and sexual exploitation of a child, Heyden said. Depending on the outcome of the South Dakota investigation, Peterson could face extradition to Colorado, Heyden said.
Peterson’s arrest marks 2010’s second arrest by the Internet crimes unit. Since the unit was established in 2000, it has made 80 arrests for Internet luring and Internet crimes against children, Heyden said.
H. Michael’s Take:
These “sting” operations are growing across the country and especially in Colorado. Defending these cases requires an understanding of the complex laws governing this area and experience and specialization as a result of handling dozens of these cases combined with many years of courtroom experience in criminal law.
Sexual Exploitation is the criminal act of persuading, employing, enticing, or coercing a person to engage in sexual acts for the financial gain or sexual gratification of the offender. Although children are the primary victim of exploitation, exploitation is a crime that affects both adults and children. Exploitation charges will be brought against someone for enticing, persuading, or coercing the victim into such unlawful sexual acts as pornography/child pornography, human trafficking, and prostitution.
In Colorado, the statute governing this crime is as follows:
Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child (18-3-405.4)
1. A person commits internet sexual exploitation of a child if a person, who is at least four years older than a child who is under fifteen years of age, knowingly importunes, invites, or entices the child through communication via a computer network or system to:
(a) Expose or touch the child’s own or another person’s intimate parts while communicating with the person via a computer network or system; or
(b) Observe the person’s intimate parts while communicating with the person via a computer network or system.
2. It shall not be an affirmative defense to this section that the child was actually a law enforcement officer posing as a child under fifteen years of age.
3. Internet sexual exploitation of a child is a class 4 felony.